KPU announces Molly Cross-Blanchard as the Indigenous writer-in-residence
Cross-Blanchard is a Métis poet, writer, and editor
Kwantlen Polytechnic University announced Molly Cross-Blanchard as the first Indigenous writer-in-residence at the institution last month.
Cross-Blanchard was born in Treaty 3 in Ontario, and raised on Treaty 6 in Saskatchewan. She currently lives in Vancouver, and has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Winnipeg and a Masters of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of British Columbia. She is the former poetry editor of PRISM international and former publisher of Room magazine.
Initially, Cross-Blanchard applied as an instructor to the creative writing department at KPU to replace someone who wasn’t able to teach this semester.
“I wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to take that class because they weren’t sure if that person would be away,” Cross-Blanchard says.
The chair of the department emailed to inform her that KPU was open for applications for an Indigenous writer-in-residence and encouraged Cross-Blanchard to apply.
“I went through the application process and was successful and was so happy because it was a great opportunity. And then I ended up teaching also, so I get to wear two hats at KPU this term,” she says.
“I am really looking forward to meeting with students because I think the most change happens on an individual level where you’re working one-on-one with someone.”
While doing her master’s degree, Cross-Blanchard was at a poetry workshop reading out a poem about Métis history, but none of her classmates understood the content. There were two writers-in-residence at the time, Katherena Vermette and Alicia Elliot.
“Katherena spoke up and explained to the class what the poem was doing, because she did have that context and that lived experience,” Cross-Blanchard says.
“It was just such a moment for me, where I felt so grateful to have someone who got where I was coming from, and just understood me. I wanted to be that person for another student, because I know how important it is.”
Cross-Blanchard’s debut poetry book Exhibitionist was shortlisted for the ReLit Award for poetry. Her poem First contact: Métis was also shortlisted for a National Magazine Award in June. Cross-Blanchard’s writing topics include shame, feminism, sexuality, body image, anxiety, depression, pop culture, settler Indigenous relations, and romantic love.
“I give a lot of props to KPU for opening up a position like this and paying it fairly. Everyone has been so supportive of anything that I wanted to do in this role,” she says.
“On the other hand, there’s an Indigenous student population who may not have exposure to Indigenous People working in the arts.”
She says many people in the community weren’t aware that Indigenous People can be writers until they went to university.
Cross-Blanchard is looking forward to interacting with students about writing and sharing feedback and answering questions about the publishing industry.
“I’m only around for another two weeks, but anyone should feel free to send me an email and we can set up a Zoom meeting, a phone call, or an in-person meeting. I would love to just meet as many people as possible.”
Students who want to connect with Cross-Blanchard can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.